Marketing Series: fear and loathing of marketing

On social media, in the writer’s guides sections of booksellers, blog posts, and so on, I see a lot of content that makes me think that people are afraid of marketing. If there is a post on what’s your biggest fear, worst skill, or whatever in being an indie writer, there are so many people who comment on their fear and loathing of marketing. For the life of me (and I’m not going to lie) I am much, much more afraid of semi-colons and errant typos than I am of marketing. (Any semi-colon in this post is because I have an awesome proofreader.)  I am, though, starting to see a pattern in why people fear and loathe marketing.

There are a few common concerns I’ve heard. The first is that people may feel uncomfortable singing their own praises. There’s so much advice that it is confusing and overwhelming. What if my plan fails? Related to this if my plan fails, I just wasted my time and money. There’s so much to do that I don’t know where to start. I’ll address these concerns. 

I feel uncomfortable tooting my own horn

If I were a different kind of person and psychologist and I had different goals in life, I’d discuss self-esteem, imposter syndrome, and the like. I’m not going to do that. There are others better suited to talk about that than me, like my friend from graduate school Dr. AJ Rao who is a social psychologist and personal coach.

What I am going to do is start by talking a little about myself.

I don’t feel comfortable, at all, about talking about myself. As I write this, I’m feeling queasy. Not because I don’t think I’m qualified to talk about myself (imposter syndrome). I think that I am the most qualified person to talk about myself, because I’m me. Nor do I have particularly low self-esteem (I’m actually quite proud of my accomplishments). My uneasiness comes from absorbing some of the cultural values while I lived in Hawaii during a large portion of my life, where it is akin (in my description) to farting in public on a stage with a microphone near your rear-end. It’s rude, and you should be embarrassed. So right now, I’m completely embarrassed with writing this paragraph. (Not the farting analogy. I think that’s pretty good.) By talking about myself, I have out-loud and in public farted. No. Wait. I have called attention to myself. I have publicly stated that I like myself. I am uncomfortable. But still, I am doing this.

How did I get over feeling uncomfortable? Well, I really haven’t. I just don’t let it stop me. How did I take the first step? By taking a little one at a time. I tested the waters to see if the shame sharks would bite my toes off. They didn’t. My toes are still intact. I’m sure I did other things, but the main thing that I did was practice.

If you feel uncomfortable tooting your own horn, my suggestion would be to practice. A little at a time, until just flat out saying, I wrote a book, and I think that you might like it, comes out of your mouth (If that’s just too much, you may consider getting a coach. No sarcasm. That’s what they’re there for.)

The main point is: don’t let this stop you from doing it!  

So much advice

Yeah. There is a lot of advice in blogs, in books, on webinars, etc. Sometimes, it seems like if you don’t do all of it then you will fail. Worse yet, there is advice that is contradictory. I’m going to let you in on a secret. There are many ways to market your book. There are many ways to sell your book. If you try one way and it’s not working, then you can try another way. We are indies. We don’t have big budgets with stockholders to contend with. We can change marketing plans on a dime.  

There is no ONE magical formula for success. There are many ways to market your work.

But what if my plan fails

Your marketing plan didn’t fail. It just didn’t have the expected outcome. Why?  There could be a lot of reasons. It just didn’t work this time, because it was timing. Maybe, it just isn’t the right plan overall. Yikes. I have failed. No. You didn’t. You got an outcome that you weren’t expecting. Time to analyze the plan.  

Even better, now you’re free to try something else.  

I just wasted time and money

Your time isn’t wasted (It was market research). Your money wasn’t wasted  (Market research. You can always give away your swag as office party gifts.).  Nothing is wasted. Your time. Your money. But it will be if you let it make you give up.  

So don’t give up.

Don’t know where to start

Don’t hate me for saying this. There’s no magical place to start. Really, there isn’t. You can start as soon as you get an idea that you might want to become an indie writer (Okay, I did this so you can do that too). And you can feel your way to creating your brand (see post on branding). Again, that’s kinda what I did. You can be a multi-book self-published with low sales writer. All that means to me is that there’s a great opportunity for new marketing strategies, for detective work, for experimentation. I’m getting revved up just thinking about that. Eventually, you will be too. 

Psst. The secret here is to start where you are. 

  • You have books published. Great! You can concentrate on marketing.  
  • You’re still writing it. Fantastic! You’re in production. Maybe, promote your book on your progress and struggles. 
  • You’ve finished it. Wonderful! Time for quality assurance.  
  • It’s edited within an inch of its life. Fabulous!  Time to make it pretty. Bring out the designers.  
  • You’ve just uploaded it. Time to focus on getting reviews (see post on social proof).  

Why do we fear and loath marketing?

Well, by we, I mean you, because I really like it. But, I can see how it would be something to fear and loathe. Why? It’s the anxiety and fear of thinking that you don’t know what you’re doing and that you can’t possibly ever know. The truth is, everyone can do this. No. Really. You can. That’s why I’m writing this marketing series and why I’m working on a book and webinar. To help you create your own marketing strategy. To take the fear out of it, so that if you do decide to hire someone, you can talk about it with them. You don’t have to like it as much as I do, but, really, there’s no reason to fear and loathe it. You just need a tiny bit of knowledge.

Take home message:

  1. Practice tooting your own horn. Start small. I wrote a book. I am writing a book. Work up from there.
  2. There’s no real secret formula for marketing. If what you tried got you an unexpected outcome, maybe analyze why, but most importantly come up with a new plan.
  3. If I fail, I wasted time and money. Nope. Market research.
  4. Start where you are. It’s never too late and it’s never too early.  

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